Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Energy Storage: a review from Berlin.

I am glad to find myself in Berlin this week to attend the 8th International Conference on Renewable Energy Storage. This is the core European research and industry event on energy storage. There is a balance of excellent academic and industry speakers but at any instance anyone can notice that this event is dominated by German activity. The German academia and German industry are serious about energy storage... Storage for electricity grid stability, for industrial energy management, for households, for off-grid isolated consumers and on-grid consumers and most importantly storage for vehicles.

Norwich Business School is part of the event with 2 studies. A first one on the "Utility-scale energy storage for the regulation of wholesale electricity prices" and a second one on "The multiple role of energy storage in the industrial sector". The first study is a detailed examination of the arbitrage value of electricity storage for the Greek electricity market. The core theme of this work is currently developed through an institutional innovation framework for the UK electricity market by our NBS team.

The second study is the result of a collaboration with our colleagues in the Technological Education Institute of Piraeus in Greece and the Institute of Power electronics and Electrical Drives of RWTH Aachen. Nevertheless, this project would have never taken place without the contribution of our industrial partners Systems Sunlight SA in Greece and AEG in Germany. We looked into the potential revenue streams for the development of demand management and energy storage for energy intensive industries. For the first time commercialisation analytics were combined energy billing savings, participation in the spot market and a lookout for potential governmental subsidies that the value of storage is worth for.

In fact this second study has inspired our research group for further discussions for the development of a larger consortium that will enable us to apply at the forthcoming EU Horizon 2020 funding competition. Being at this conference is really the right place to explore the dynamics of possible collaborations. Simply put, most of the potential industry and academic partners we would wish for are already here. Clearly the contribution of NBS in an engineering intensive consortium is essential. Our partners do not expect us to develop technological R&D. They do however, expect us to develop innovative architectural and institutional business models that will enable mainstreaming of energy storage. They also expect us to inform policy making and inform governments about the financial and utility value of energy storage.  

Following from that last issue, our German colleagues and the panellists at the conference's sessions discuss quite extensively that funding for energy storage should not for much longer be directed to R&D but to market implementation. They are looking for direct subsidies similar to those that started-up the markets for wind energy and PV-panels. Perhaps the UK's subsidy for electric vehicles is already doing that?

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